FSU Seminoles vs UM Canes-College Football's Greatest Rivalry-The Year was 1979

 Thirteen days and counting before the University of Miami Cane Thugs arrive in Tallahassee (everyone should hide your belongings, lock all of your doors, hide your keys, and lock up your daughters). 

Our series continues today with the game played on September 22, 1979. 

At the start of the 1979 season, the excitement over our football team was growing and the Nole fans expectations were getting bigger and stronger after finishing the previous year at 8-3. There was a new play-by-play announcer for FSU football by the name of Gene Deckerhoff.  The Noles started the season ranked in the top 20 for the second straight year, at #19 in the AP and #15 by Sports Illustrated.  Here is how Sports Illustrated previewed the Seminoles in their September 10th issue.

15. Florida State

The beat of an Indian war drum throbs portentously. Forty thousand Seminole fans are on their feet and screaming in Florida State's Campbell Stadium. The visiting team is manfully trying to complete its pre-game workout in the midst of all this cacophony. Suddenly the drum grows even louder, the stadium lights go dim, and a blanketed horse appears under the Seminoles' goalpost. From out of the darkness beyond the end zone comes State's Seminole mascot, bounding toward the horse. He leaps atop the animal, which rears up, and thrusts a flaming spear triumphantly into the night sky. Then, with his mount at a gallop, he circles the visiting team's players, as the crowd roars. Finally, at midfield, he slams the spear deep into the turf and rides off to thunderous cheers. Welcome to Florida State.

After attending the Houston-FSU game in Tallahassee last fall, A.J. Yeoman, wife of Cougar Coach Bill Yeoman, complained that she feared for her safety. This year, five Seminole opponents must brave an evening in Tallahassee, and they should have concern for their well-being, too. Back from last year's 8-3 FSU team are 18 starters, including 10 from an offense that was among the national leaders in total yardage and passing. The drum beats on.

Once again the attack will be led by "Wally Jim Jordham," the two-headed quarterback who completed 206 passes for 2,749 yards and would have ranked third in the nation in yards gained through the air, except for one thing. Jordham is actually two marvelous passers, Jimmy Jordan and Wally Woodham, who, in the eyes of Coach Bobby Bowden, are perfectly interchangeable and are used that way. Jordan hit 54.3% of his attempts, gained 1,427 yards and passed for 14 TDs. He throws deep better than Wood-ham does, but not by much. Woodham, a 58% passer who threw for 1,322 yards and nine TDs, reads defenses better than Jordan does, but not by much. They and holdover receivers Jackie Flowers, Sam Piatt and Kurt Unglaub and Fullback Mark Lyles were mainly responsible for Florida State's scoring 38 points on four different occasions last season. "Our athletes aren't physical enough not to throw," says Bowden with a wink.

The coach's main concern is the Seminole defense, which last year made a habit of yielding points freely in the first half (137) and then knuckling down, as evidenced by the fact that FSU gave up zero points to seven opponents in the second half. One defender Bowden can count on for a full day's work is Nose Guard Ron Simmons, a weight-lifting junkie who has won the Defensive Player of the Game award all three times State has played on TV. The return of Ivory Joe Hunter, who started at cornerback until he was injured in the second game last year, also figures to help make the FSU defense stiffer than it was in '78.

On Sept. 15, Florida State meets Arizona State in Tampa, Fla. If the Seminoles can win that one and another game at LSU in October without benefit of their riled-up fans, they might win them all.


In 1979, FSU was once again playing our two headed quarterback, Jimmy Jordan and Wally Woodham, and as you read above, the nation was starting to take notice.  While Bobby thought of them as interchangeable, neither we the fans, nor the opposing team, ever knew which one was going to start any game.  The fans loyalties were divided and there were always arguments to be made for both.  However, just as in the previous year, when one was not moving the team, the fans would begin chanting the others name and soon enough a change was made. 


In 1979, Jimmy completed 87 of 180 with 13 TD's for 1173 yds, and Wally completed 80 of 152 with 5 TD's for 940 yards.  While their numbers were down a little from the previous year, our fullback Mark Lyles rushed for 1019 on 225 carries for an average of 4.5 yds per carry.  This was the last time FSU has had a fullback rush for over 1000 yards in a season. (Couldn't we really use him now!).   

We were an experienced team with many of our starters returning from the previous season.  Many of the same players were prominent  on offense, including Michael Whiting, Greg Ramsey, and Gator Cherry in the backfield, and Jackie Flowers, Hardis Johnson, Grady King, Phil Williams and Sam Platt catching the passes (BTW, this was Jeff Bowden's sophomore season).   Ken Lanier, Mike Good, Greg Futch, Barry Voltapetti, Gil Wesley and John Madden were just a few of the linemen who paved the way and protected our QB's. 

Our defense was once again anchored by 4 All Americans, including Ron Simmons, Bobby Butler, Mark Bonasorte and Scott Warren, with Reggie Herring, Paul Piurowski,  Keith Jones, Ivory Joe Hunter, Arthur Scott, and Mark Macek also defending. Our  returning punter was Sophomore Rohn Stark and our kicker was again Senior Dave Cappelen.  The duo were given the nickname of "Thunderfoot and Lighting", a moniker that would continue on for a few more years when Bill Capece replaced the Dave Cappelen after he graduated, and until Rohn graduated also.

Our Noles started the season by winning at home in a struggle with a very strong defensive Southern Mississippi team, coming from behind and scoring 14 points in the final 10 minutes to win17-14.  This victory moved them up a spot in the AP rankings to #18. 

The following week we faced a preseason ranked Arizona State in Tampa, where they manhandled the Sun Devils by a final score of 31-3.  This victory improved the Noles ranking to #14 with UM next and ready to come into Campbell Stadium wanting revenge for losing the previous year's slugfest.

This game was played the day before CSI Nole's 2nd Birthday, and Miami was coming in at 1-0 and cocky as usual. However, much of the previous year's history would repeat itself.

Florida State defense was punishing and caused five Miami turnovers as the Seminoles rolled to their third victory of the season, 40-23, over our now despised rival Miami.

Believe it or not, FSU trailed after a quarter, 7-3. But FSU rebounded and put 16 points on the scoreboard in the second quarter and another 14 in the third.  But just as always seems to be the case, Miami closed the gap with a 16-7 fourth quarter advantage.

Our Noles got the lead for good four plays into the second quarter when fullback Mark Lyles rushed in for the TD from four yards out and Dave Cappelen kicked the PAT.

An interception by Bobby Butler on the next Miami series set up the next Seminole score, another 28 yard Cappelen field goal. Soon after, Miami's punter made a mental mistake by letting his knee touch the ground at the Hurricane 15 late in the half and FSU quickly took advantage of that mistake. Six plays after the miscue, the Seminoles got another six points on a one yard plunge by Lyles.

The score in the third quarter came on scoring runs of four and two yards by senior tailback Greg Ramsey. Both time the PAT was booted by Cappelen. For the second time in three games, Gary Henry returned a punt for a Seminole score. This time it came with five minutes gone in the fourth quarter and covered 57 yards.

FSU, praised throughout most of the pre-season for its pass offense, showed in this game that it also had a running attack. FSU picked up 205 yards on the ground with Lyles' 85 leading the way. A total of 12 pass completions between quarterbacks Wally and Jimmy gained 117 more yards.

1st   3- 0  Dave Cappelen, 26, field goal, 9:12 
      3- 7  Opp, 10, run (kick), 4:29 
2nd  10- 7  Mark Lyles, 4, run (Dave Cappelen, kick), 12:30
     13- 7  Dave Cappelen, 28, field goal, 6:21 
     19- 7  Mark Lyles, 1, run (Jimmy Jordan, pass failed), 0:22 
3rd  26- 7  Greg Ramsey, 3, run (Dave Cappelen, kick), 10:58
     33- 7  Greg Ramsey, 2, run (Dave Cappelen, kick), 1:52 
4th  33-15  Opp, 2, run (run), 11:29
     40-15  Gary Henry, 57, punt return/blocked punt (Dave Cappelen, kick), 10:00
     40-23  Opp, 9, run (run), 7:58 

FSU OPP First downs 17 15 Rushes-yards 54-205 40-101 Passing 117 133 Att-Comp-Int 26-12-2 32-11-4 Total Yards 80-322 72-234 Punt Returns 3-61 1-24 Kickoff Returns 1-14 5-81 Interception Ret. 4-42 2-37 Fumble Returns 1-0 0-0 Punts 4-42.0 6-33.7 Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-1 Penalties-Yds 7-64 6-50 Attendance 47,679 INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS Rushing Mark Lyles 25- 85 Greg Ramsey 18- 76 Michael Whiting 3- 24 Keith Kennedy 3- 19 Wally Woodham 3- 9 Jimmy Jordan 2- -8 Receiving Sam Platt 3- 46 Jackie Flowers 2- 25 Greg Ramsey 1- 14 Mark Lyles 3- 12 Grady King 1- 7 Hardis Johnson 1- 7 Phil Williams 1- 6 Passing Wally Woodham 14- 9-0- 93 Jimmy Jordan 12- 3-2- 24 Punt Return Gary Henry 3- 61 Kickoff Return Michael Whiting 1- 14 Punting Rohn Stark 4- 168 |---------Tackles---------| |---Sacks---| |---Pass Def---| |-Fumbles-| Blkd DEFENSIVE STATISTICS UT AT Total ForLoss No - Yards Int-Yds BrUp QBH Rcv-Yds FF Kick Saf ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Paul Piurowski 2 9 11 . . . 1 . . . . . Reggie Herring 2 7 9 . . . 1 . 1- 0 . . . Ron Simmons 2 6 8 1.0- . . . . . . . . Mark Macek 5 2 7 2.0- . . . . . . . . Scott Warren 3 3 6 2.0- . . . . . . . . Ivory Joe Hunter 4 2 6 . . . . . . . . . Arthur Scott 1 4 5 1.0- . . . . . . . . Monk Bonasorte 1 3 4 . . 2- 10 . . . . . . Edenbur Richardson 1 3 4 . . . . . . . . . Keith Jones 1 2 3 . . 1- 13 . . . . . . Bobby Butler . 3 3 . . 1- 19 1 . . . . . Jeremy Mindlin 1 2 3 1.0- . . . . . . . . Walter Carter 1 1 2 . . . . . . . . . Jarvis Coursey 1 1 2 . . . . . . . . . James Harris . 2 2 . . . . . . . . . James Gilbert . 1 1 . . . . . . . . . Michael Whiting . 1 1 . . . . . . . . . Jimmy Jordan 1 . 1 . . . . . . . . . Scott McLean . 1 1 . . . . . . . . . Gary Henry . 1 1 . . . 1 . . . . . Garry Futch 1 . 1 1.0- . . . . . . . . Hector Gray . 1 1 . . . 3 . . . . . Mike Smith . 1 1 . . . . . . . . .



The significance I place on this game is 3 fold. 

A)  The victory for FSU was its second straight over the Hurricanes and the first time since 1972 that we won 2 straight games against the Canes. ( BTW, pre-Bowden, FSU won 7 straight from 1963 to 1972). 

2)  It marked the first time our Garnet and Gold beat down Miami in Doak Campbell Stadium.

D)  It paved the way for FSU's first significant undefeated regular season (In 1950 the Noles playing in the Dixie Conference did go 8-0)


This victory would  help FSU gain 2 more spots to #12.  The rest of the season played out as follows:

at Virginia Tech W 17 - 10  Became #9
at Louisville W 27 - 0  Stayed at  #9
 #20  Mississippi State W 17 - 6  Became #8
at LSU W 24 - 19   Became #6
at Cincinnati W 26 - 21  Dropped to #7
#19 South Carolina W 27 - 7  Became #5
Memphis W 66 - 17  Stayed at #5
at Florida W 27 - 16  Became #4
Jan 1, 1980  #4 FSU vs  #3 Oklahoma   (ORANGE BOWL) L 7 - 24



       AGAINST TOP 25  2- 1
       FINAL  AP  -  6
       FINAL UPI  -  8




Around Nov 12, there was much debate as to who the #1 team in the country was among the 5 undefeated teams.  In that edition of Sports illustrated, Jimmy Jordan was on the cover along with the 4 other QB's who were making their claims to #1.  (On the inside, their catchy slogan was that it didn't matter who was #1, because that team would be wearing red. HA-FAIL)



However, FSU did not have the prestige, the conference affiliation, or the history to overtake Alabama with the Bear, or any of the other teams, in the polls.  This is what SI thought about the situation. 

For Florida State, the row to hoe is even longer because it is an independent and can command no sympathy vote from conference boosters. The Seminoles' strategy is to point to its schedule. Among the undefeated six, the Seminoles had played the hardest slate going into last Saturday's games, the seventh roughest in the nation. Florida Statewas the only team among the biggies whose opponents had won more than they lost this year (28-23). A poor running game diminishes the Seminoles' credibility. But their defense, led by outstanding Nose-guard Ron Simmons, and an imposing passing game save the day, as it did last Saturday. Yet, Florida State still is not thought of as a big-enough football power—even though it is—to get serious national championship consideration. Which doesn't stop its players or fans from dreaming.


As it turns out, our loss in the Orange Bowl took care of this not becoming an issue. 

I was at that game in the Orange Bowl. But that is another story for another day. 

BTW, That Orange Bowl game was the first time Renegade and Chief Osceola ever traveled to a game away from Doak.

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